A U. S. Geological Survey study has found widespread concentrations of a toxic pesticide in waterways in Iowa and throughout the upper Midwest.
Mary Harris is an entomologist at Iowa State University. She says the pesticides, neonicotinoids, have been linked to declining bee populations, and a growing body of research shows the chemicals could be affecting wildlife farther up the food chain.
"There are studies coming out, particularly on in the Netherlands, in which neonicotinoids have so suppressed the prey base for their song birds that they are directly relating neonicotinoid use to declining numbers of birds."
The pesticide is used to treat corn and soybean seeds to prevent insect infestation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, application of the chemical in Iowa has increased from roughly 90,000 pounds in 2004 to 740,000 pounds in 2013.
During this River to River interview, Ben Kieffer talks with Harris, and Dana Kolpin, a co-author on the study.